By now you know that leads are imperative to sales and moving your business forward. But not everyone truly understands where leads come from or how leads work, which can impact how you work with them and generate them in the long run.
So: how do leads work? How do you get people online and become a lead? Where do leads that you buy come from?
In this post, we’re going to dive into the details of these questions and their answers. Let’s get started!
A General Example for a General Understanding
First and foremost, we think the easiest way for you to kind of understand how internet leads are created and given to you is to look at something you’re familiar with.
Let’s look at what that customer experience is. For the sake of this example, let’s pretend that you’re a customer looking to get a mortgage, or maybe you want to get some sort of house insurance product.
You end up on some websites like Progressive or Geico, for example, where you’re prompted with a form to fill out that gives your email and phone number.
And that is a lead for that company. When a customer goes to any of those types of pages and fill out the form or give information somehow, that is the initial inquiry that will ultimately become a lead. That data will be loaded into a spreadsheet or directly into your CRM so you can use that info to nurture those leads.
When you’re looking for a customer to become a lead, they fill out that form with all of that information. There’s more to this than just that, though.
When a consumer submits the form, usually at the bottom of the form is a series of things that they opt into. That terms of service or opt-in section agreement section is usually fairly complex if you were to actually click through it.
A lot of times they have a whole list of companies, that they’re allowed to share the information with. There are some legal caveats allowing them to share the information, which can spread these leads to other companies, like when a company purchases leads.
What information the consumer gives and what information that’s allowed to be shared will be very specific to the form that they fill out, which is where it becomes specific to the industry and the company you’re working with.
If you want to know the hard specifics of where your leads are coming from, that’s a question that you should ask your lead provider.
Getting the Information
While the specifics on where bought leads (or any leads, really) come from will vary fairly widely depending on how that lead was first acquired. Once you go into the system, so to speak, then whoever that lead generator is has certain parameters that they are allowed to use in order to share or sell that lead out.
Another factor is that there are consumer expectations that have been set on the front end of marketing material.
Think about a time you’ve filled out your information on something like this. Oftentimes these forms will say something like, “Hey, the value of filling out this form is that multiple lenders or multiple insurance providers will contact you to help you shop and make it easier for you to compare. They’ll send you a bunch of rate quotes and offers.”
This helps the consumer see that it’s good that their information (aka them as a lead) is shared with a variety of companies because it will benefit them in some way. This will also help simplify that process because we’ve got all those lenders, all those providers, waiting to give you an instant quote once they get these Internet leads.
That’s what gives these organizations the sort of the authorization and the expectation from the consumer that their information will be provided to multiple providers, which also generates leads for those providers.
Once the lead is given to these sorts of organizations/providers, they take that into their database, they look at it as it comes in in real time, and they look for everybody in their network, and send those leads out based on certain filters, qualifications, and information given in the fill form.
For example, let’s say a lead has said in the form that they want a mortgage for X amount in California. When a lead comes in, the organization can then use their technology to match the characteristics/filters that the customer with the providers who are looking for that type of lead. This benefits the consumers since they’re looking for something specific and it benefits the companies getting the lead since it’s the type of lead they’re looking for.
Weeding Out the “Unhappy” Leads
Of course, once the lead is sent out to the various providers, the providers are going to pounce. They’re going to take that lead and try to give them the best offer of what they’re looking for and beat out any competition that also received that lead.
This is important from your sales process. All of these competitors are going to call and email this lead pretty instantly, especially as more people are using automation to contact internet leads.
While it’s important to contact the lead and get your voice in, think about this from the consumer perspective. This can be a bit overwhelming and lead to a few negative reactions.
First, they might say, “Hey, I didn’t fill anything out, why are you contacting me,” in order to just get rid of you. Or, they just won’t answer to avoid the aggressive nature of these types of salespeople.
This is often the result of people not really understanding what they’re signing up for. They know they’re getting some value from being contacted by various providers, but once these providers latch onto them as a lead, they become overwhelmed. They think it will be more informative for them rather than an opportunity to be sold to.
We’ve experienced this before. One thing we notice is that a lot of people say something along the lines of, “I thought I was getting something else,” or, “I was just doing that in order to get whatever I could get online, but I didn’t want anybody to call me or contact me like this.” This serves to brush you off as a salesperson and shows that they didn’t really understand what they signed up for as they get barraged by calls and emails.
And that, understandably, is their natural reaction. However, most people do know that they’re giving their information and they did expect calls, but perhaps just not as many and not in such an overwhelming way. Usually, if you are able to track them down and really get the opportunity to talk with that client, you would kind of find out that, yes, they did give the information.
Think about it: the only way to get their information in this context of internet leads is if they gave their information out. But, this is a very common objection, and it’s okay. Never debate or argue with the customer; try and have a real and extended conversation with them instead of bombarding or arguing with them.
If they’re insistent, simply say sorry and offer to take them out of the database and make it a quick conversation, because obviously there’s no sale to be made there and you’d just be wasting your time.
After the Initial Contact
So at this point, the information from the consumer has been collected, matched with some real-time providers, and the lead has been contacted.
After this, though, we see that something interesting happens. Data shows that between 75 and 80 percent of salespeople after that first initial interaction abandon the lead. This is often because they don’t have a lead follow up system in place or a CRM that allows them to effectively follow up.
So people will get all this information, it doesn’t go anywhere after the first interaction, and they then either lose track of the information or the salesperson loses interest.
While this is not effective for those who abandon leads, it does give you a lot of opportunity to keep up with your follow up and continue with that lead after the majority of other providers “give up”.
Gaps in the Market Create Aged Leads
There’s another category that’s interesting, too. Let’s say when that customer gives their information that there’s an expectation and an authorization that their data will be provided to five providers.
But what often happens is that you’re authorized or set an expectation with the consumer that you’re going to share this information with five providers but you can only find three that match the filters. There are little gaps in the market where there just aren’t enough providers for certain categories of leads. This could be because they’re not as attractive, easy to work, or are just sort of isolated.
So you’ve got three of the five leads here, that consumer’s data, that lead, hasn’t been fully monetized. And as soon as a short period of time goes by after the information was given, those two other “legs” as they’re referred to in the lead industry can no longer be sold as real-time leads since that time has passed.
As these “missing” legs of a lead accumulate over time, they can start becoming aged leads. Over time, this creates a sort of additional market. A secondary market of leads that allows for lead brokers or secondary market brokers to come in and use them.
However, there needs to be a bit of strategy with how they price these types of leads.
Overall, they’re worth less compared to those initial real-time leads because they are older and they’re harder to work. So, it takes more time and effort to work them and convert them into sales. However, many individuals and organizations are willing to take the aged data knowing and understanding that it’s going to be harder to work. But, they’re willing to exchange my time and effort for the lower dollar amount.
Leads Without Consumer Intent
There’s this whole other category of data that exists that is markedly different from internet leads in the sense that generally for compiled consumer data there is no consumer intent. This category is when the consumer didn’t actually provide that data. Instead, it’s actually compiled by collecting their information from a variety of different sources.
Sometimes this consumer data can update, verify, and add information that was provided by the consumer and they’ll layer that in or append that to their data records and they’ll build a very robust profile on each and every individual consumer in America.
If you’re working with a consumer data provider, there’s a fair amount of limitations on how you work with those leads, especially considering that the consumer is not necessarily involved or providing that information directly.
This can be a little less accurate, too, because the information is being assembled from third-party sources and could potentially not be entirely correct.
The Internet Lead Ecosystem: Wrapping Up
Hopefully, that’s walked you through some of the details and given you a little bit of a clear insight as to where Internet leads come from and how the lead ecosystem works. When you get that next lead, whether it’s real-time or it’s consumer data or it’s aged leaves and it’s actually on your screen and your CRM, try to think through what has this consumer potentially experienced and how that affects your interactions with them.
How can you give them a better sales interaction? How can you be empathetic of what they’ve gone through when you (and many others) contact them?
It can even be helpful to let them know that you understand the type of experience they’ve had. Something like, “Hey, I know a couple of people have called you at this point and I know you were looking for a mortgage quote a couple of months ago, are you still interested,” etc. Using that sort of language and understanding of this process for when you approach that lead can give them a more familiar and trusting experience.
We know that this general overview probably generated a ton more questions, so please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask!